Flute Society of NSW


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“RIVER SONGS” presented by The Hourglass Ensemble

  • Utzon Room - Sydney Opera House Bennelong Point NSW Australia (map)
River Songs.jpg

“RIVER SONGS” presented by

The Hourglass Ensemble

“The river has physical presence, deriving identity from water, currents, tides, light, mangroves, birds, ferries, people. It carries connotations of life itself, the miraculous continuity of time and generations.” - Betty Beath

The Hourglass Ensemble premieres two Australian commissions and reinvents well known local chamber works and song cycles, featuring soprano with flute, clarinet, violin, harp, and piano. A beguiling combination of instruments, rarely heard together, brings you into a sound world of unique combinations and enchanting stories. Hourglass is preparing for their third European tour, exporting native compositions to new global audiences again in 2018, in Poland, Germany, Denmark, and England.

Sensual, cool, and crystalline, “River Songs” portrays cities built around rivers and oceans, and the way those living there have connection, history, and belonging with water.

Meanwhile, in the sparkling Australian rainforest, the stunning “Lyrebird in my Piano” shows us the wizardry of our famous native bird, combining Bartok and Satie, Debussy and Ligeti, or Reich and Takemitsu, via the imagination of Brisbane composer Richard Grantham.

The program is packed with more Australian music - there is feisty sky dancing in Ball’s “Enemies of Gravity”, and novel nocturnal jazz musings in Lemon’s “Tangent Blues”. Finally, modern pumped up groves in Brophy's bass clarinet work, NRG.


Friday 9 March 7pm – Polish Consulate, Sydney

Saturday 10 March 7.30pm – Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House


The Lyrebird in my Piano trio for clarinet, violin, and piano – Richard Grantham (Australia)

River Songs song cycle for soprano and piano – Betty Beath (Australia)

Tangent Blues* duo for flute and piano – Karen Lemon (Australia)

Enemies of Gravity* for flute, clarinet, and piano – Andrew Ball (Australia)

Thais, an opera by Jules Massenet (France), including Meditation and the final act, arranged for soprano with chamber ensemble

Dumka for piano, opus 59 in C minor – Pyotr Tchaikovsky (Russia)

NRG Bass clarinet - Gerard Brophy (Australia)

The Hourglass Ensemble is a Sydney-based group of elite chamber musicians and soloists whose mission is to enjoy playing the best music with the best performers at the highest level, and to draw in an audience with a large range of experience with contemporary music to understand new artistic worlds.  Their unique expertise is in blending new and unusual combinations of woodwind, with strings, voice, percussion, piano, actors and designers, exploring timbral possibilities of familiar groupings, focusing on commissioning, premiering and recording Australian composers, and exporting works from their homeland to the world.  

The group returned from a highly successful debut tour of Poland, Switzerland, Germany and Austria in 2017, and are about to release their first two EPs. They’ll return to Europe and add North America to their audience in 2018.

Hourglass was born in 2015 from the manifesto of artistic director Andrew Kennedy– to play new and recent music that an audience will be able to enjoy and understand on first hearing, to deformalise the concert experience to make it less abstract and threatening, and to give the uninitiated listener an explicit guide to accessing the art music world.  Following that philosophy, the group has explored a diverse repertoire from unaccompanied solo pieces to well-loved late Romantic pieces, to re-imagined twentieth-century classics, to brand new chamber opera and Australian-themed song cycles.

Flute - Ewa Kowalski
Clarinets/Director - Andrew Kennedy
Violin - Ewan Foster
Harp - Marjorie Maydwell
Soprano - Laura King
Baritone - Andrew O’Connor
Piano - Anna Rutkowska-Schock

Later Event: March 26
Annual Gala Day!